Downtown Park's Newest 'Northeast Gateway' Entrance Now Open to Visitors
With construction wrapped on the newly minted Downtown Park NE Gateway, visitors can now bask in the shade of natural vegetation while enjoying a paved passage from the Northeast 4th Street and Bellevue Way intersection to the 21-acre Downtown Park, which encompasses a spacious lawn, benches, a cascading water feature, recreation areas and a gravel promenade. Contractor Ohno Touchdown JV removed construction fencing panels late Friday afternoon to officially welcome the public into the newly renovated area.
While lingering caution tape and portions of fence are still in place, Project Manager Ken Kroeger from the Parks & Community Services department noted those barriers will be around longer on the perimeter to ensure the freshly laid turf has a chance to bulk up. In the following weeks, there will be minor maintenance and other housekeeping duties carried out by the contractor, but nothing that would impede visitors from exploring the gateway entrance, Ken assured.
“Since ground was first broken for the park in the ‘80s, it has been every bit the well-loved landmark city leaders envisioned,” said Michael Shiosaki, Parks & Community Services director. “Each major improvement since then has made it more accessible and beautiful.”
Poised as an anticipated extension to the Grand Connection corridor and a signature Downtown destination, the highly visible junction expects to serve an estimated weekday average of 26,000 people traveling through Bellevue Way. For more context about the Grand Connection initiative, visit the City of Bellevue website to view activation plans and new developments.
“This project creates a distinct and much needed connection between the park and downtown’s commercial district,” said Mayor Lynne Robinson.
Other central elements of the revitalization project include a new pedestrian plaza, site lighting, an aquatic feature, infrastructure improvements, landscape maintenance along the street, and varied seating options for one of the most treasured Park activities: passive people watching.
To encourage exploration beyond the plaza, design coordinators, city officials and several chairs from the Arts Commission and Park Board elected nationally acclaimed architectural artist Marc Fornes, founder of THEVERYMANY, to develop a holistic concept for a permanent outdoor public art exhibition.
According to the artist, the art piece will include different organic textures comprised of carbon material crafted to mimic the dappled light of a forest canopy.
As city officials and public health experts continue to closely monitor coronavirus analytics, a grand unveiling is slated for late autumn, after the art piece has been erected.
Ultimately, the inspiration behind the Northeast Gateway project aims to broaden access to the park and businesses in Downtown proper while tending to important improvements and adding vibrancy through a communal art experience.
To learn more about its historical background, amenities, and the forthcoming public art installation, check out our previous blog on the project.
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